Use of the contraceptive pill has a statistical relationship with an increased risk of prostate cancer, according to new research.
A study found that in countries around the world where the proportion of women using the contraceptive pill is higher, the rates of prostate cancer in men is higher.
Other contraceptives that form a physical barrier, such as intrauterine devices or condoms, were not linked to a higher incidence of prostate cancer. The research was published in the British Medical Journal Open.
A team of researchers from Canada used two existing sets of data to pinpoint rates of prostate cancer and associated deaths and the proportion of women using common methods of contraception for 2007.
They then analysed the data for individual nations and continents worldwide to see if there was a link between use of the contraceptive pill and illness and death caused by prostate cancer.
Use of the contraceptive pill was significantly associated with the number of new cases of prostate cancer around the world, in findings which were not affected by a nation's wealth.
Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in the developed world and the use of the contraceptive pill has soared over the past 40 years.
The research is speculative and designed to prompt further consideration of the issues. Therefore definitive conclusions cannot be drawn yet, the researchers say.